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Defense Going Green Despite Budget Cutbacks

Written on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 by

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leon panetta

So this guy walks into a bar and starts talking about how we’re going to send out the military to fight climate change.

That’s it, no punch line.

Also, the guy is Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the bar is an Environmental Defense Fund lunch last week.

But Panetta really does think the military needs to tackle this climate change thing. That part is true.

Panetta was at the event on behalf of the Defense Department, which was being honored for its work on environmental initiatives.

Panetta told attendees, “The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security. Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

I must have missed something. I thought the Defense Departments general notion of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief was carpet bombing a path to the sea for refugees to flee Muslim terrorism.

I had the impression FEMA was working on the whole natural disaster thing. Of course, they still haven’t finished cleaning up after Katrina, so maybe they’re busy. Still, unless Doctor Doom is behind global warming, I don’t really see the military connection.

Anyhoo, getting back to Panetta, under his watch the DoD has undertaken projects to save the environment whenever the armed forces are out and about dropping gazillion-pound bombs and firing off buckets of shells.

So far, the achievements have included the Navy and Air Force using more biofuels for ships and jets. The Marines have opted for recharging batteries on their nightvision goggles and radios by using solar panels.

According to Panetta, this is all necessary because of the rising price of oil, whoever’s responsible for that — **cough**obama**cough**. The DoD is looking at a $3 billion fuel deficit this year, Panetta said.

At a February hearing on military alternative fuels, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, complained that 450,000 gallons of blended biofuels ordered by the Navy and Air Force for exercises this summer near Hawaii cost four times the price of regular fuel.

“So in order to make up for that difference, will those planes fly a quarter of the time they would have otherwise flown as part of this exercise?” Conaway asked.

As the military forges ahead with plans for solar, biomass, wind and geothermal projects, some lawmakers are accusing President Obama of using the DoD budget to hide funding for his pet projects following the public failure of Solyndra and other alternative energy investments by his administration.

Pentagon officials deny the accusation, but Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy at the American Action Forum, wrote last month, “Obama is hiding new renewable energy bets at the Pentagon, charging our Defense Department with major investments in ëlow-emissions economic developmentí while cutting their budget by $5.1 billion. New energy spending is new energy spending, no matter where it happens.”

Despite complaints, the military branches are moving forward with spending tens of billions of dollars to save that $3.1 billion in fuel costs.

Not a moment too soon, either, what with all the climate change attacking our country. Remember just last month, when the Air Force had to use its french-fry-grease-powered jets to stop that 50-foot wave threatening New York?

Oh, wait … that actually may have been an old episode of “Superfriends.”

Well, I’m sure it will happen eventually. Panetta said so.

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